Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Few Holiday Snaps

Now I've seen the real Antarctic! No sooner had the winter season started than I set off with three of my fellow winter team to see if we could survive in a tent for a week or so. Naively, we hoped for sunshine and light winds so we could get out and explore every day. Little did we know how much fun could be had sitting out a week long bizzard in an old style pyramid tent, with nothing but a primus stove, Tilley lamp (burns paraffin), some army rations and a good book. Yes, 7 of my 8 days in the wilds of Antarctica was spent in a tent drinking tea, and having ten tons of snow blow down my trousers every time I ventured outside to go for a pee. We did manage one day out exploring, seeing the sights of the Brunt Ice Shelf, with some ice climbing and abseiling thrown into the mix. 8 days in a tent definately makes you appreciate how wild this place is, and all the luxuries we have here at the base (toilets, showers, warmth, bar, cheese, more cheese etc.)

Above: Our guide Sune celebrates the first setback of our trip as a ski falls off my skidoo just 10km from base on the way out. Plenty of time for a cup of tea as we await the AA.

Below: The view from outside our tent for the brave few who left the cosy confines of a sleeping bag during a spot of real Antarctic weather.

Above: Kettles on for a brew. The stoves we were using have hardly changed since the days of Scott and Shackleton, we felt like propper Antarctic heros.

Below: The weather finally perks up enough to get out and practice our mountaineering skills. Here I am in Aladdin's cave, having ice climbed my way up there, looking pleased with myself.

Treasures hidden deeper in Aladdin's cave. The eery blue light made a welcome change from the orange glow of the tent walls. We crawled under the icickles to the top of a ridge where you could see the ridges and crevasses of the zone where the floating ice shelf I live on joins continental Antarctica.

Above: My tent mate, Deano, laughing at me as I fall on my face on our natural ice rink.

Below: Looking back at camp.

An Emotional Farewell

Halley's short summer season came to an end on the 18th of Feb as we waved goodbye to the summer crew aboard the Ernest Shackleton, which quickly disappeared into the clouds of orange smoke bellowing from the flares we let off to mark the occasion. Below you can see me standing shore side, and our snocats on the way back from having watched our last contact with the outside world sail off into the distance.


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